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Livestock Identification Methods Why identify animals? Ownership proof Keeping accurate records Disease eradication Food safety Breeding Global trade Emergency management Endangered species tracking

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why identify animals
Why identify animals?

Ownership proof

Keeping accurate records

Disease eradication

Food safety


Global trade

Emergency management

Endangered species tracking


* Hot Iron Branding* Freeze Branding* Paint Branding* Ear notching* Tattoo* Microchip* Ear tags* Radio collar/Transmitter* Chains* GPS swallowed or inserted



Brands have been used as marks of identification in all countries and civilizations.

  • The branding scene below is shown on Egyptian Tomb walls dating back to 2,000 B.C.

Uses a metal instrument to burn or freeze a mark on to the animal

Predominantly used on cattle and horses

Original use was to showownership NOT individual animal ID numbers

types of branding
Types of Branding

1.Hot Branding

Fire Branding

Electric Iron Branding

2. Freeze Branding

3. Paint Branding

hot iron brand
Hot Iron Brand

Steel or Copper branding irons are used

freeze branding iron
Freeze Branding Iron

Usually made out of copper

freeze branding
Freeze Branding

Uses liquid Nitrogen or alcohol & dry ice

Turns hair white

“O” on the brand is horizontal double bars

“1” is vertical double bars

ear tagging

Uses special pliers to attach plastic pieces with numbers on them, easy to read from front view but less permanent than some systems

uses of ear tags
Uses of Ear Tags


Insect control

Electronic ID Information

ear notching
Ear Notching

Uses a special notching tool to cut out little “V” notches on animal’s ears

ear notching33

Scab in 1-2 days, healed within a week


Since having 81 pigs in one litter is impossible, the 81 notch on the left ear is added as part of the litter number, if needed.



  • Horses - Tattoos must be officially applied by certain authorized agencies for recognition by racing commissions
  • Tattoos are very easily altered.


  • Tattoos do not work satisfactorily in horses under two years of age because of growth dilution and absorption of the ink.
  • Some tattoos fade as the horse ages.
  • Tattoos can be removed

Uses a special tool called tattoo pliers to put inked numbers in ears, lips, or other locations



Relatively painless

A clean ear is the first step to a successful tattoo. Clipping ears may also be necessary to avoid interference from hair.
After several weeks, the tattoo should become legible as the dried ink flakes out of the calf’s or kid’s ear.
microchip implants
Microchip Implants

Latest technology in animal identification

Used primarily in US for high value animals and pets

Implanted under the skin in neck/shoulder region primarily

computer research microchip
Computer Research-Microchip

Why is micro-chipping so highly regarded by shelters? What are several advantages of it compared to other methods of id?

How much does it cost?

How long has this technique been around?

Are there states or countries that require microchips in pets?

Are there other potential uses other than in pets?